The mayor, state legislators, tenants and police officers had a lot to say Tuesday, March 19, about the benefits of a new police substation at the C.J. Peete public housing complex. But as it turned out, actions spoke louder than words.
Minutes before a 1:30 p.m. news conference to announce the substation's opening, police caught a gun-toting suspect walking in the 1,403-apartment complex.
"When he saw us, he started adjusting something in his waistband," said one of 14 community police officers assigned to staff the round-the-clock substation. "When we patted him down, we found a loaded, .38-caliber revolver. He said he was carrying it for protection."
It was the second gun arrest since the substation opened that morning. About 10 a.m., officers questioned a few men walking in the complex. When police began to search them, one bolted but was soon caught.
The suspect had a bag of marijuana and a .40-caliber semi-automatic weapon with 14 rounds in the clip. The suspect was booked with being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm.
Mayor Marc Morial commented on the dramatic decreases in crime that followed the opening of substations at the Desire, Florida and B.W. Cooper complexes. C.J. Peete is the latest addition.
In February, 1995, about 45 officers began patrolling from substations within Desire, Florida and Cooper. Community-oriented police squads try to remedy the conditions that contribute to crime, helping resolve problems such as bad lighting and abandoned cars, things not usually thought of as police work.
The bottom line, Morial said, is that community policing "is successful in saving lives and removing violence from our public housing communities."
And, in fact, by the time the news conference was over, the community police force also had arrested three suspects for drug possession and four people for a variety of outstanding warrants, said Lt. Edwin Compass III, the commander of the community police substations.
New Orleans Police Chief Richard Pennington said his officers don't intend to push criminals into other neighborhoods.
"We're going to do everything we can to push people in jails." he said.